Hello, I’m back, I’m back, I’m on the right track!!!

Well that was a line in a popular song back in the days when I was a DJ circa 1973…

I’ve missed the whole of July due to illness… even ended up in accident and emergency and ended up on morphine and several other powerful drugs such that I was off my face! I got an extended bout of severe sciatica. I don’t recommend it! Anyway, I am back full-time and had some great visits to seven vessels yesterday.

         Fire, Fire!! Well that is a first!

I had a good visit on one vessel where I was given a tour of the vessel and my eyes saw something I had never seen on a PSV before… you would be surprised too – can you see it on the picture?

On this vessel they had some excess food stores and asked if I could pass them onto the lads on the Malaviya Seven. This I happily did much to their delight as can be seen in the pictures below.

Thankful crew on M7 receiving food!

Just the job – “bees to the honey pot?”

You may be surprised to read that the crew of the detained vessel, now in port since June 2016 and no pay since the end of September, are still here! The the issue went going to court on the 27th of July and amazingly, despite GOL offshore going into liquidation in May, the Indian Bank who owns the mortgage stepped in at the last moment asking for a delay to prepare a case… This was granted for two weeks so on the 10th of this month its back to court! 

Of course, much has been going on as we seek to support the vessel, from providing stores, to fuel – twice – and water, we endeavour to ensure that the crew are looked after. 

The local newspaper did a little article on them which is opposite.

Yummy, yummy, food and good company!

One of our volunteers has done a lot for the crew and I have mentioned her in previous blogs… She really is an angel! She took the crew for a meal (I was invited to join them, but I was flat on my back at the time!) It would seem that they had a great time! It also gave the cook the evening off! 

A while back I reported on our visit to the cinema with the guys to watch Spiderman. I was given a picture of a few of us – they certainly are not camera-shy!! 

I was then embarrassed when I returned to work when they presented me with a home made ‘Thank You’ card!

Life at the centre continued in my absence and it is to the credit of our wonderful volunteers that it remained open throughout my illness. No wonder they received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, well deserved one and all! Please do get in touch if you would like to volunteer – there are many ways you can help so don’t be shy!

Home sweet home!

One seafarer made good use of our facilities as you can see. “It is good to get a little bit of home when away for so long from family. There are no home comforts on our ship and the couch is great to relax on.” (He even took his socks and shoes off!)

Numbers continue to grow year on year… and we are we are pleased that the facility continues to be well used!

Hospital and home visits continue and there always seems to be one more thing to do… I am so privileged to be part of this wonderful ministry to seafarers! 

There is more planned – the annual Celebrate Aberdeen parade will be on Saturday the 26th of August and you would be most welcome to join us for that!

The Lord Provost is going to be presenting our volunteers with their certificates for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – date yet to be confirmed!

On the 1st of September there will be a launch of the SEA-SHED! You probably are wondering what on earth is that? Let me explain my reason for setting it up. It is quite simple really… I have been meeting seafarers since 2001 in Aberdeen. Sadly, most of the elderly ones that live in Aberdeen I meet for the first time – at the crematorium! This is sad as we have so much we can offer them by way of friendship and support. Data Protection rules mean that I cannot get information about those who retire. So, I thought, why not have a ‘club’ for seafarers!

A Sea-Shed is a place where Seafarers feel at home and can pursue practical interests with a high degree of autonomy. A Sea-Shed offers this to a group of seafarers who share experiences, knowledge and resources they need to enhance their lives in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue. 

They are places of skill-sharing and informal learning, of individual pursuits and community projects, of purpose, achievement and social interaction. Above all, it is a place of leisure where seafarers come together to enjoy the friendship of the sea.

A Sea-Shed’s activities usually involve talking, discovering, learning and laughing! Although a Sea-Shed will mostly attract older seafarers, it may include younger folks who have been to see. Whichever activities are pursued the essence of a Shed is not a building, but the network of relationships between the members.

It could include many different things, but will include the development of IT skills with iPads being provided to use at the Shed for free; guest speakers; outings; tea/coffee and tabnabs; and plenty of fun and laughter!

If you are, or know of anyone in the Aberdeen area who would like to come along, then please do let them know – doors will be open at 1000 and will last to around 1300 with a light lunch being provided. 

Away from the harbour, I have become a grandfather again with the birth of Rachel Elinor in July. Last sunday we had a family lunch and it was lovely to have 10 of us around the table. The two cousins and mums are in the picture above… and Byron held Daniel for the first time – his expression is priceless! Happy days!

Well, that is about all for now… Hope that you are enjoying your day!

Blessings,

Howard ><>

 

YIKES… that isn’t normal…

                     An empty Quayside?

Well that was different! 

Aberdeen Harbour is a busy port and even during the ‘downturn’ there  has been a constant stream of vessels visiting the port! One day this week I was amazed to find that Albert Quay was empty! I cannot remember ever seeing as it was in the picture opposite! It didn’t last long and was soon occupied again!

As you all know I have been, along with many others in Aberdeen, offering ongoing support to the crew of the Malaviya Seven – the vessel that has been detained for over a year now.

It is so sad that this has dragged on for so long, but all involved have done their best to expedite the crew from their current plight. Unfortunately, this has taken so much longer than was initially thought.

I regularly visit the vessel and they have become good friends over the past year. There have been times when some have cried with me, and times when they have laughed with me. Times when moral has been high – with the prospect of a settlement to the non payment of wages, only to plummet when yet another deadline passed and they were let down. Thankfully support has been there to see them through the difficult times.

          Lunch is served!

Of course, hospitality is very important to them… many times I was offered breakfast, lunch and dinner, but I refused – not because their food was bad (quite the opposite actually!) rather it was my health that was the problem. I have diverticulosis which means any spicy food has an adverse effect on my bowels! 

                  Have a bit more Father…

So last week, during one of my visits I was ‘tricked’ into having some lunch. I thought, “I’ll have a laugh and take a little…” As can be seen in the pictures, I served myself to a huge portion… to the great hilarity of everyone. The cook tried to add more rice to my plate as well…

        Film crew and trainee??

The local TV asked if they could cook a meal on the vessel and say thank you to all those who have been helping the crew over the months that she has been stranded in Aberdeen. You can watch live later today on STV2′ program, Live at Five (Freeview channel 8, Sky 117, Virgin 159, but if you missed it, you can watch on the STV Player). As can be seen Presenter Zara and cameraman George are ably assisted by their new trainee cameraman – Captain Ashish!

Plenty of laughter as ever..

              A helping hand??

Whilst we have been helping the crew in many ways, it hasn’t been all one way traffic! The 2nd engineer helps with the broken door closer. on the cupboard for the tabnabs… or was he trying to break in? Haha!

Meanwhile, I took onboard Jonathan Mitchell to see the crew and get a few ‘professional’ pictures taken… he will be joining me again next week – visiting the vessels I visit…

On the home front, life has been so busy… Little Danno (as we affectionately call him) is growing and doing well…

                Batman Rules!

I had a visit from an old seafaring friend Davie the cook and his wife. He had been ill but has made a good recovery and he and his wife popped into the Centre one evening… all the way from Kilmarnock! It was great to catch up and they had very kindly bought an outfit for little danno. We had not mentioned to them that my son was a Batman fanatic and so when I tool the item out of the bag – I was surprised and delighted to discover that it was a Batman outfit! 

Finally, I received a call from an agents asking if we could open the Seafarers Centre around 1100 until 0200… 7 Bulgarian crew were arriving on the last flight into Aberdeen and joining a vessel which was then sailing at 0500 – doing a partial crew change!

        Keeping warm indoors?

The flight was delayed, the ship was delayed and the crew who had come from a sunny 35 degrees arrived at the Centre where it was raining and 8 degrees! Yes, Aberdeen Summer strikes again! A fresh pot of coffee and various tea and tabnabs and they were happy to be somewhere warm and friendly! I finally got them onto the vessel at 0245! The cook, who had come in shorts and a t-shirt, was delighted to have a cardigan and a woolly hat to wear INSIDE the centre!! I was invited to join them for breakfast, but declined and got home for 0300!

Better close for now… 

Enjoy your weekend!

Howard ><>

And back to the routine…

                      King Cat!

Yes, the bread and butter of chaplaincy is what I thrive on. Over the past two weeks I have had some terrific conversations on various vessels and in the Seafarers Centre with seafarers from many different countries. In and of themselves they may not change the world, but they will have had an impact on a seafarer and most certainly me! Routine visits to hospital and retired seafarers continue. Koos’ cat has settled into his new home and is now the king of his castle!!

I am now into my 17th year as port Chaplain in Aberdeen (how time flies!) and I still get uplifted by the many ‘ordinary’ encounters with seafarers. Yes, there is a Seafarers Centre to run, that in a sense, is my ‘work,’ but my ministry is with and for the many hundreds of thousands of seafarers who have visited the port over the years. It is something I hope to do for many a year to come – if I keep good health and the donations keep coming in! 

                    TS Bon Accord

I was invited to two Sea Cadet units for their special evenings. They were very good events and whilst my day to day role as Port Chaplain is concerned primarily with active seafarers, I do a lot with retired seafarers as well. I am also keen to help those intending to go to sea.  I am no longer chaplain at the Nautical College in Glasgow, therefore  the Sea Cadet Units, TS Scylla and TS Bon Accord afford me a place to encourage these young folks in their journey. Mind you, I don’t normally attend their gatherings one week after another!

                            Inspections…

TS Bon Accord had their biannual inspection and this was a great evening seeing the cadets excel in their evolutions and especially the semaphore! Those who were there will know why I mentioned it!

The Following week, the refurbished TS SCYLLA service was indeed quite a spectacle… I especially enjoyed meeting the two officers from HMS Diamond who attended and the banter during the evening was great! The dedication of the plaque to commemorate Commodore Brian Keith was also special. He was a good friend and loyal supporter of the mission; but on this occasion, gave a very generous donation to the Unit, contributing to their being able to complete a magnificent upgrade of the Main Deck.

Sandwiches for the Crew of the Malaviya Seven!

As ever, nothing stays static and phase two is just around the corner.

It was an enjoyable evening and the food was excellent – with some of the leftovers ending up on a ship… The Malaviya Seven!

With the announcement of the Aberdeen Seafarers Centre receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, we have had a lot of positive feedback and many good wishes. Moving forward we are looking to invest in the building which we currently lease from Gulfmark UK (big thanks to them!) and will be applying to trust funds to seek some substantial contributions.

We also will be investing in our Volunteers with Fire Marshal training event, a free First Aid course and a celebration event in July to say “Thank you” to all of them. 

Jorge & Charlie

As I have said, we have a great team of volunteers and Charlie does a great job in exchanging the book libraries that have been placed on over 200 vessels working out of Aberdeen (and many others that never come back – e.g. cargo vessels)  with well over 80,000 books exchanged in just three years!  

Jorge was another faithful volunteer manning the centre over many years, but we sadly lost his services when he returned home after the downturn and had no work! 

Charlie went on holiday to Port Alcudia in Majorca and was stunned when he heard someone shout his name… yes, it was Jorge who now works at the local harbour there! As can be seen in the picture – they both enjoyed the sunshine and were happy to spend some time together!

Anyone wanting to join our team of volunteers would be most welcome – do pop into the Centre (we are open (1300-1500 Monday through Friday or any evening after 1800) for an informal chat or drop me an email and we can sort out a time to meet up to discuss what we can do for you and what you can do for the seafarers! 

           The Captain and the Godmother

I had the pleasure of being part of the Christening ceremony of Fugro’s newest vessel, Fugro Venturer.

            Swing hard…

 

 

 

It was a great occasion and many friendships were renewed and some new ones made! Because of the weather – it was rather windy – we conducted most of the ceremony inside on the bridge!

I had asked for the rain to stop, which it did, but I didn’t ask for the wind to go!

Smiles All Round!

I had been asked by the vessel superintendent to bless the vessel – “It’s good to keep the old traditions alive” he told me. I more than happy to do so and my joke even went down well. 

Ship visits continue and I have had some great laughs… sorry, I cannot say too much here to protect the guilty!

I was delighted to present a seafarer on the newly Christened vessel with a Tagalog Bible that he had asked me for… I do not “preach,’ however, we do have good stocks of Christian materials that we freely give out when they are asked for! 

Life on the Malaviya continues to be difficult. Issues with her continue which means that her detention continues. We are now over a year since the vessel was first detained and it is 16 months onboard for some of the crew. As I write, I have just had a call asking for help with getting fresh vegetables. 

Legally, the next hearing is towards the end of July. It would seem that International Maritime Law is not being applied but then, I am not a lawyer so don’t know all the ramifications.  

Away from the port, life at home is just as busy… work continues on Byron’s bedroom, now plastered, I need to find the time to put on the skirting board, trims around the window and loft access then gloss paint the door and surrounds.

Fathers Day is a happy time for me – having 5 great kids who love me and bless me in so many ways is something that I am very grateful for. Your average seafarer however will miss such special days, this is especially true of foreign seafarers like Filipino seafarers who can be away for 9 months at a time. Spare a thought for those who were unable to be at home with their loved ones!

Byron and Batman!!

That said, one of the gifts I got was not a “super father” rather the mug pictured which says “SUPER GRANDAD!”  Next month I will become a grandad again when Jessie gives birth to a girl, we await the good news!

Byron will be finishing at his school next week,  his school is closing and he will be moving to a brand new purpose build school… exciting times ahead. We attended a great farewell party at which Byron met with a special guest – Batman! 

He will be off school for just over 7 weeks, that will keep us all very busy as Byron rarely sits still for 5 minutes! August will see an exodus to Manchester when we are part of our eldest sons wedding to Tilly. Later today I will be getting my kilt along with my two other sons. The English will think it is an invasion! Happy times ahead! 

So that is all for now… 

Blessings,

Howard ><>

 

 

 

 

What an Honour…

Well, I have to say that something special did happen!

As promised – here is the update about it!!

Aberdeen Seafarers Centre was awarded 

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service!

What an honour! 

However, I have to say that all my volunteers – you make me so proud – are the unsung heroes!!
 
So much love shown to seafarers and you make it possible for the Aberdeen Seafarers Centre to continue its vital ministry to all of the estimated 100,000 seafarers that visit the port each year!! I cannot name you here – but you all know who you are! I am so chuffed for our current volunteers – watch out for a special event early in July!!!
 
You can see what the local Press & Journal said in their article by clicking here
 
There is always space for more volunteers to join our team so please do get in touch with me, Howard Drysdale via email or call me to make an appointment. You are more than welcome to pop in one evening (although I am not there every night so you may not see me!!) and have a chat and see what we do for the seafarers.
 
 
 
Have a great day!
 
Blessings,
 
Howard ><>
 
 

It’s good to be back!

What an eventful weekend I have just had! More later though…

At the Seafarers Centre, plenty has been going on and our services continue to be well used. Lots of fun times and a few ‘issues’ to be dealing with.

Sadly, the Malaviya Seven continues it’s long sojourn in Aberdeen – almost a year now! Support continues to be given by many which speaks volumes of the local community, shipping companies and other agencies and of course the chaplains and volunteers here at Aberdeen Seafarers Centre.

Recently, I joined the crew in their game of cricket on the afterdeck. There was a lot of hilarity and as you can see from the pictures – they even recovered the ball when it went overboard! It was a good time to chat when they were relaxed and the tensions were forgotten for a while. 

See below for some pictures:

Great shot Chaplain???

How’s that! OUT!

Anyone for Cricket?

Where is the ball?

Smiles all round – they found it!

            A full car and happy seafarers!

Things continue to drag on… and we continue to support them in many ways – including a trip to ASDA for some groceries!

The next significant date is the 12th of June after which they will know a little more about the outcome of this ongoing saga to get their rightful wages.

Away from the Malaviya Seven, the harbour continues to keep me and my great team of volunteers busy.

 

Our cruise vessel season started with the smaller vessels. These are more intimate and enable time to speak with the crew. We opened up the Centre for them to use our free internet and relax away from the business of life onboard. Long watches and even longer contracts mean that they value greatly the opportunity to get off the vessel and contact their family and friends back home. 

Some of the crew enjoying the free wi-fi!

A cold seafarer…

Joe on gangway duty asked if I had a scarf amongst the bags of woolly hats I had with me… happy to help this cold Filipino seafarer! 😀 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Thanks to the N.I. North of Scotland Branch!

I enjoyed attending the Nautical Institute North of Scotland Branch AGM.

Many thanks for the very generous cheque of £1,000 presented to me by Roger Armstrong for Aberdeen Seafarers Centre – and for all the ongoing support of the Nautical Institute since 2001!

On the family front… well, the pictures say it all…

 

 

 

 

 

Little Daniel is a charmer… however, a little bad news in that I had to visit my son in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Saturday night – Sunday morning after he broke his collarbone! The arrow in the picture below was so that they operate on the correct collarbone!

Happy before his operation!

He had his operation this morning and so the recovery begins. Sadly, he will not be holding little Daniel for a while now… Get well soon son!

And at home… it was time to remodel Byron’s bedroom… down came the mock wood paneling on walls and ceiling; rewiring and insulation of external walls, and then putting up new plasterboard. The plasterer will be coming on Wednesday to put a finishing skim on the walls – there are limits to my skillset – although I did fit new taps in my other son’s kitchen sink on Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will look great when it is finished, although Byron isn’t convinced…

Click here to download a short video

Anyway, enough for now, suffice to say that a very important update should be posted tomorrow – so watch this space for news of a great achievement for Aberdeen Seafarers Centre Volunteers! They are the unsung heroes who keep the Centre open every day of the year! Your story will be in the P&J (local newspaper) tomorrow! 

And a vessel Christening on Wednesday… busy, busy, busy!! 

Take care,

Blessings,

Howard ><>